If So, an Evil One
A lot of conservative activists were shocked and outraged when they learned that Bush appointee John Roberts was the key swing vote which decided that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance under Obamacare was constitutional. Some found evidence, which seems pretty credible, that Roberts switched his vote at the last minute and was originally going to join with the Justices who wished to overturn this essential provision of the act. Others sought rationalizations which would enable them to keep deluding themselves into thinking that there is any real difference between the two political parties at the highest level. The most common of these I have heard is that Roberts was some sort of genius who has dealt Obama a painful political blow with this ruling.
If Roberts is a genius, he's an evil one. Rush Limbaugh's first instinct on this was correct. Justice Scalia's opinion on it was correct. Peter Schiff is correct. The ruling is awful. The writer who lauds him as a "genius" does so on the assumption that this was deft political calculus, not brilliant justice. He writes....
"..... he forced liberals to have to come clean and admit that Obama-care is funded by tax increases. Although he didn’t guarantee Romney a win, he certainly did more than his part and should be applauded."When things like that become the motivations for Supreme Court decisions then the court has been politicized to the point where it is useless for its intended purpose of peacefully resolving legal issues in an impartial manner. "Forcing liberals to come clean" about their imposition of taxes is not a proper function of the court, nor is maximizing the political fortunes of the candidate of a particular party. Such a practice will destroy any remaining shred of credibility citizens place in the federal courts. It's playing with hellfire.
Here we have a man claiming to be a conservative who would not legislate from the bench. Yet the Senators who voted for the bill, the President who proposed it, and the lawyers for the administration who argued for it all denied that it was a tax. They all said they were basing their authority to pass the bill on the interstate commerce clause. Conservative jurists are supposed to consider the intent of the legislators who voted for the bill and the Executive who agreed to it rather than impose their own views on legislation. Yet this so-called conservative jurist tells all the people who made this bill a law that their intent is irrelevant- he will decide that the bill is OK by imposing his own intent on it. He will OK it using a reasoning they did not even claim. It's judicial activism at its worst, and if done for political reasons, most cynical. By the way, if the individual mandate is a tax then the whole law is illegal anyway because the bill originated in the Senate.
The reasoning of his opinion was awful, indefensible even. Are some among us so debased that we will cheer awful reasoning which expands the power of the federal government just because it gives temporary political advantage to some politician that nobody really likes anyway? What has happened to the morals and integrity of the people in this country? Almost as importantly, what has become of their minds?
Saying that it did not expand the interstate commerce clause is not much of a plus, because that clause has already been expanded to where it serves to cover all manner of federal abuse. When the courts have already agreed that this clause allows the feds to punish a man for growing wheat on his own land that he fed his own animals, as it has in the Wickard case, then the law needs no expanding. All Roberts did was say they can't use it to punish you for not engaging in commerce.
In fact, Roberts has just handed the feds a big new stick the feds can use to beat us regular citizens with. Roberts has said that the federal government can increase our tax burden over what it would otherwise be for failing to purchase specific products or perform specific acts. Oh, don't get me wrong, the individual income tax is the root problem here. It ought to be scrapped at once. It's the primary vehicle the feds use to reach out and control the behavior of the citizens. The Founders would be shocked to hear that the central government considered it their business to know how much income each citizen had earned each year, from whence it was derived, and could claim a varying share of it depending on whether or not the citizen complied with the wishes of Congress.
Still, tax some deductions are more like carrots. They are "rewards" for doing what the government wants you to do with your money. What Roberts has done is hand them a new stick. They can now punish you for failing to do what they want you to do with your money. Thanks to Republican Roberts (and Romney cited him as the kind of man he would appoint) the Federal government now has a new stick to hit you with, not just a carrot to entice you. You better believe this won't be the only time they use it.
Under Robert's politically convenient but logically flawed argument, the penalty was simply another tax on income. But that's not correct. Two persons in the exact same tax circumstances, with the exact same income, taking the exact same deductions, would pay different amounts based not on their income, but their behavior. If one failed to purchase health insurance they would face a tax penalty not based on income at all, but based on behavior. The tax is collected through the income tax collection code, but it is not a tax on income, if it is a tax at all it is a tax on behavior. The federal government is only empowered by the 16th amendment to collect direct taxes (that is taxes directly from the citizen to the government) on income, not behavior.
There will be no end to the mischief that politicians of both parties will devise with this new power to penalize you for failing to purchase products their corporate contributors wish you to buy. If John Roberts is a genius, he's an evil one.